The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Spc. Arronn D. Fields, 27, of Terre Haute, Ind., died May 21 in Qal-ah-ye Mirza Jal, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with rocket propelled grenades. He was assigned to the 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis, Ind.
For more information the media may contact the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Shawn Gardner by telephone at 317-247-3222 (office), 317-407-7065 (cell) or Staff Sgt. Les Newport 317-247-3222 (office), 317-538-8414 (cell).
At 8 a.m. Monday, Arronn David Fields grabbed a break in the war in Afghanistan to call his mom at home, in Knightsville.
He told her he'd be coming home on leave in August. He'd see her then. Normal chitchat. Then he had to go -- his unit was going out on patrol.
Hours later, the 27-year-old specialist in the Indiana National Guard was fatally wounded during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Qal-ah-ye Mirza Jal.
About midnight, the phone rang again at the home of his mother and stepfather, Jackie and Bill Pilkin, bringing the toll of war directly into their home.
Now, they wait to hear from the military about when their son's body will make the trip back.
Fields, the youngest of three siblings, attended Ivy Tech Community College and tried a few jobs after graduating in 2003 from Northview High School in Brazil. But he always seemed to be destined to join the military, said Bill Pilkin, an Air Force veteran.
"I think he always wanted to be a soldier," he said by telephone from his Clay County home. "And he was gung-ho as a security policeman. That's what he wanted to do."
Fields enlisted in 2006 and was serving with the 381st Military Police Company, 81st Troop Command, as part of Task Force Guardian, a multiunit military police force from Indiana. He deployed to Afghanistan in January and had served a one-year tour in Iraq in 2010, Pilkin said.
Fields had decided to make the military his career, Pilkin said.
Soft-spoken and outdoorsy, Fields loved fishing and working on his classic cars -- a 1969 Mustang and a 1973 Plymouth Challenger. In the summer, Pilkin said, Fields was all about fishing, but when it got cold, his stepson headed to the garage to work on the cars.
He was self-taught and kept adding to his skills and knowledge since getting his driver's license, often consulting with a friend who is a mechanic and then applying what he'd learned to those old cars, Pilkin said.
After his year in Iraq, he asked to be stationed in Afghanistan, Pilkin said. The family was aware of the danger and fearful for him.
"He and his mother talked about it, and he just told her that's what he wanted to do," Pilkin said.
"He loved his family, he loved his country, and he loved his God," Pilkin said. "And he was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for other people."
Funeral arrangements are pending the return of his body to Dover, Del., and then Indiana.
He is the second Indiana soldier to die in Afghanistan in less than a week.
Army Sgt. JaBraun Knox, 23, Auburn, died Friday when an enemy rocket hit an area where extra shells were stored, according to his family.
Call Star reporter Diana Penner at (317) 444-6249.